Dear friends on the journey,
As we come to the end of our liturgical year next week and look forward to Christmas, we have gospels like today’s that look to the end of time when Jesus will return again and how we should prepare ourselves.
Today’s gospel sure paints a grim picture but we have to remember the context. Luke, taking inspiration from Mark’s writings, is describing Jesus’ already fulfilled prophesy of Jerusalem’s temple destruction in 70 AD, however the rest is to still to come “at an hour we do not know.” But Jesus tells us not to be terrified, to stand tall and persevere.
When our current view of life and experience of the world looks so much like the gospel’s bleak description of war, earthquakes, fire, famine, and persecution how can we possibly persevere and stand tall. Some days it feels like the end of the world and we wonder where God is in all of this. The big picture can be daunting. Hand in hand with the guarantee of pain, suffering and destruction is Jesus’ promise of God’s mercy, care and love for all of us collectively and individually.
This semester I am taking a class on one of our many Catholic spiritualities, Ignatian Spirituality, based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Very simple the focus of his spirituality is finding God in all things and one of his many exercises to do this is the Examen. It narrows the big picture into smaller, less overwhelming picture of our own lives. This simple reflective prayer, done even in 10 minutes at the end of the day, is a look back on your day to see where God was working and moving.
In five prompts you can find God’s presence, recall moments for which to be grateful, discern emotions and actions, review encounters that indicate the need for improvement, and look forward to another day.
I offer the Examen as a way of finding God in all ways of your daily living, whether it be in a season of easy going, a season of strife, and in this imperfect culture and impermanent world that is counter to the eternal life God promises us. This exercise provides a lens through which we see and experience God’s ever active love that helps us to not fear, to stand tall and to persevere in the here and now of life, as we celebrate Jesus’ coming this Christmas, prepare for his coming at the end of time, and most especially experience his presence among us now.
Faith Life Minister